The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Family rallies behind ‘innocent’ Monica

Chhabewal (Hoshiarpur), Nov. 20: The Bedi family in Norway will do all it can to provide the best of legal defence to save their daughter Monica.

In a phone interview with The Telegraph from Drammen in Norway, Monica’s brother Bobby claimed that his sister’s relationship with Abu Salem was just that of a friend and had nothing to do with his “dealings”.

“We have requisitioned the services of a good lawyer. My sister cannot go astray. The only case against her concerns her passport. She has already suffered for that in Portugal. We will be travelling to India to be near her,” Bobby said.

“I can vouch for my sister. I know for sure she was never involved in Salem’s shady deals. Her relationship with Salem was that of friends. We don’t think she married Salem. She never told us she was married. And we had never asked.”

Yesterday, Monica told a court in Hyderabad that she was unmarried.

Bobby asserted that Samira, Salem’s wife, could throw more light on how Salem operated. “You should be asking her and not my sister. Samira has all the answers,” he said.

“Monica ne galti kari Salem se dosti kar ke. Woh nirdosh hai. We must find out why she took Salem as a friend. What were the reasons' Please understand before pronouncing her guilty and hanging her for no fault.”

Bobby said his uncle Purshottam, who had till recently been saying he had severed links with Monica and her father Prem, would organise legal aid for Monica. “He is taking care,” he said.

So far, lawyers defending Salem have also been working for Monica.

The Bedi family runs a clothes store in Drammen called Eurotekstil. Bobby denied Salem had visited Norway and stayed with them. “He never came to the house. He may have visited Norway but he never came to see us.”

In Chhabewal, however, the spell that was cast one day seven years ago continues. But with a difference.

When she came here to attend Bobby’s wedding in 1998, the villagers flocked to Monica’s ancestral house, where she was born, to catch a glimpse of their girl who had begun to make waves in Bollywood.

Today, the villagers would rather not talk about her. The pictures they had so proudly displayed in their drawing rooms with their “daughter” have been hurriedly discarded.

Gurmail Singh Gill, a former soccer player who played in Calcutta in the sixties and seventies and was instrumental in helping Monica’s father migrate to Norway in 1975, turned down queries about the Bedi family.

“I don’t want to get into trouble. I have been advised to keep my mouth shut. Talk about football only and my Calcutta days,” he said.

The village has about 70 residents living in Norway. Gill was the first to migrate to Norway.

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